(This is the ninth and final piece in a series looking at how the Buckeyes will be replacing their departed starters in 2023. Up next is the right tackle spot vacated by Dawand Jones.)
Dawand Jones was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes, and a valuable reserve the two years prior to that.
Jones came to Ohio State as the No. 1,043 player in the 2019 recruiting class. He was ranked the No. 86 tackle in the nation, but soon after arriving in Columbus his potential started to pay off. To the surprise of many, he did not redshirt as a true freshman. He earned playing time initially on special teams, but eventually found time in the depth chart at tackle as well.
As a sophomore in 2020, Jones was a reserve in the two-deep, but did get a start against Michigan State and graded out as a champion. Jones has been a starter at right tackle each of the past two seasons, earning Second-Team All-Big Ten notice from the media and Third-Team accolades from the conference coaches each year.
He now heads to the NFL where he will be a valued prospect who could anchor an offensive line for a very long time.
Dawand Jones’ backup this past season was redshirt sophomore Josh Fryar. Fryar was the sixth man on the Ohio State offensive line, also coming in as a third tight end in OSU’s jumbo “Bison” package. He got the start at right tackle against Indiana in place of Jones, who missed the game.
George Fitzpatrick and Carson Hinzman played in a combined one game in 2022 as true freshmen. Fitzpatrick saw action against Indiana, but both redshirted and should take a step with more opportunities in the spring. Incoming freshmen Miles Walker and Luke Montgomery are both intriguing prospects, but asking true freshmen to win a job on the offensive isn’t the first course of action.
Zen Michalski was a backup at left tackle this past season as a redshirt freshman, so he could be involved at right tackle if he’s not competing for the starting job at left tackle. Tegra Tshabola is also a possibility after playing in four games at guard and redshirting as a true freshman in 2022.
When the Buckeyes open spring ball in a little over five weeks, you can expect Josh Fryar to be running as the first-team right tackle. He is the most experienced and the most proven of the Ohio State options. Behind Fryar will likely be a handful of guys getting reps so that offensive line coach Justin Frye can get a look at everybody.
With both tackle jobs open, it will be interesting to see how much swapping of sides there are, or if guys are kept to one side so that they can grow and provide some answers. If one of the young guys starts pushing Fryar, then maybe that guy will get moved over to left tackle to see if he can compete with Zen Michalski and possibly Donovan Jackson.
There are going to be so many moving parts to the offensive line in spring and summer, so if Justin Frye can eliminate one of those moving parts by just plugging in Josh Fryar at right tackle and allowing him to own that spot, then that’s probably the best bet.
Fryar at right tackle would allow them to find some stability so that it’s easier to figure out the rest of the offensive line. Based on his play over the past two years, Fryar should be just fine at right tackle. And who knows, he could even be quite a bit better than “just fine.” Regardless, there are bigger issues than right tackle for the Buckeyes on the offensive line in the coming year.